It’s raining on the day of the funeral. Not torrential down-pour rain – which would’ve just been the cherry on top of the ironic miserable cake that is his life – but it’s slow and quiet, like sad background noise to the dull hum of mourning voices in his living room.
The actual ceremony passes uneventfully, and Peter’s managed to hold himself together so far. He’s relatively worn out already– sick of crying, sick of having his mind continually wander to that night. He can’t even begin to count just how many times he’s gone through different conclusions and alternative endings and realities in his head over the last few days, but, each and every time, they’ve only made him feel even worse.
And, each and every time, it always arrives at the same end – the ending where he should’ve been home, where he should’ve been with her. He’d been trying to do good for everyone, just like his Dad, but had simply managed to fail one of the only people that really meant something to him. The hold up on the subway went longer than he’d expected it to. The gunmen were easily taken down – amateurs– but the train had let off two stops past his usual one. That, and the typical gang violence he’d come across on his way home, had distracted him, causing him to crawl home later than normal, and find Aunt May gone.
Standing alone in the corner of the cold living room, Peter feels uncomfortable in his stupid suit. As much an effort as he’d put into looking reasonably passable – hair combed, shoes polished, the whole thing – Peter knows that no one can’t see the dark bags under his puffy eyes. People are looking at him with all sorts of pity and sympathy and he just wants them to leave.
They’re gathered in clusters around his living room, spilling into the hall and the kitchen. Peter made sure to lock to doors to his and his Aunt’s room before the ceremony, as well as the basement – as much as he doesn’t want them in the house, at least they can’t get into the better parts of the house. He’s meant to stay downstairs and talk to people, but he’s isolated himself to the corner of the room, just beside the window, trying to look preoccupied or busy, but it hasn’t worked very well.
Some of them have actually approached him, tried to talk him into providing some sort of response, before apologising for things he doesn’t want to hear, and walking off again. They’ve probably accepted that he’s catatonic; he must be doing a pretty good job of pretending, since they’d all given up in the end. He doesn’t care about what they want to tell him, how many times they want to apologise and tell him how they knew his aunt – it doesn’t matter to him at all. None of it will bring her back, will undo his faults and allow him to redo the whole thing. Peter just wants them gone – out of his face, out of his house, and out of his life. He wants to be away from all these people that he doesn’t know, and he never wants to see them again.
He’s trying to think of anything else but the image of his Aunt, alone and bleeding in an alley, when a man approaches him. Peter catches a glimpse of his trim, black suit and tie – looking like he’s part of the secret service or that he’s tumbled out of ‘Men in Black’ – then chooses to keep his head down and his mouth shut, hoping that the man will just walk away and leave him alone, just like everyone else has.
But he doesn’t.
“Peter,” he begins softly, minimal traces of sympathy present in his tone. It’s strange but not unusual that everyone actually knows him. His voice is clipped and formal, and the authority of it makes Peter squirm slightly. “My name is Phil Coulson. I’m from child protection services.”
If it were possible, Peter’s heart would’ve dropped even further through the floor. He knew this was coming, but he’d shoved it as far into the recesses of his mind as he could possibly manage. He was really fucking trying to avoid it, to put it off as long as possible, but, in the end, it really was inevitable. With his Aunt and Uncle dead, as well as his parents, Peter can’t think of a single proper place left for him to go. He’s well and truly alone. At seventeen he can’t move out on his own and, despite being able to handle bank robberies and mutant monsters, he needs a guardian – a guardian that actually, and unfortunately, doesn’t exist.
He knows what’s happening, so there’s no use curtailing it. Glancing up, Peter meets the man’s grey eyes with one raised eyebrow, “What’re you gonna do? Put me in a home?”
Coulson tilts his head slightly, keeping a straight face, “We’re trying to delay that as long as possible.” That really throws Peter off guard. What? Weren’t these people meant to be dead set on sending him somewhere as hellish as possible? When Peter doesn’t answer, the man continues effortlessly, “We’re sending someone to live with you for a few days until we can sort out an alternate option.”
At this, he bristles, “I can handle myself for a few days.” He’s done it before. At school, he’s a loser; he’s always by himself, reading or studying or avoiding bullies and the like. As Spiderman, he’s a solo act – he always has been. The police certainly don’t like him, and half the time he feels like a fugitive, despite the fact he’s working to do good. So, surely he can live alone for a few days without blowing something up or killing himself, before he gets sent to some unfamiliar house where he might actually try to do so.
“I know,” Straight-faced and calm, Phil nods, but his eyes are filled with understanding and compassion. Peter can’t deny how odd it is to see such a look on the man’s face – it doesn’t seem usual, but it doesn’t seem entirely unnatural either. “But I think you could use a hero right now.”
Given the bleak circumstances, he highly doubts the existence of any sort of hero right now – fictional or otherwise.